Cuban Chimichurri sauce is a delicious oil-based sauce made from fresh herbs, garlic, and onion. It's the perfect blend of Cuban-inspired tangy and savory flavors to bring life to any meal.
A little chimichurri goes a long way – it's packed with potent flavors that can easily steal the show.
Enjoy Cuban chimichurri at your next tailgate, barbecue, Superbowl party, or picnic for a treat on all kinds of dishes. From grilled or smoked tofu to roasted potatoes or fries, this fresh Cuban sauce is one of our family favorites.
What is Cuban Chimichurri?
You may know chimichurri as a zesty Argentinean sauce made with parsley, garlic, vinegar, and olive oil. But there are variations of chimichurri not only across Latin America but also in different parts of the world.
While the basic components of chimichurri typically include garlic, parsley, vinegar, oil, and various herbs and spices, the exact ingredients and flavors can vary widely depending on regional preferences and local ingredients.
This is my "Cubanized" version with cumin, lime juice, and crushed red pepper flakes. In many Cuban restaurants in Miami, you'll find it served at the table with a fresh loaf of Cuban bread for dipping or on top of skirt steak or chicken breast. Words fail to capture how this condiment imparts deliciousness on every morsel it graces. It will elevate every plant-based meal you can pour it on. I know I'm pouring it on thick (pun intended), but undoubtedly, it ranks among my top three favorites - I hope it will be in your top three, too.
Prepping for this sauce is less than 10 minutes. I like to cut the vegetables with a knife for the best texture. Use a small food processor if you need to quickly chop the vegetables, careful not to overly process them.
- flat-leaf parsley
- garlic cloves
- red onion
- crushed red pepper flakes
- extra-virgin olive oil
- white wine vinegar
- lime juice
- ground cumin
- black pepper
Substitute the white wine vinegar with rice wine vinegar or red wine vinegar, but do not use balsamic - it's too sweet.
A fistful of fresh parsley is about right. If you're measuring in grams, I use somewhere around 30-40 grams.
How to Make Cuban Chimichurri
Chopping the onions, fresh parsley, and garlic is a breeze and won't take much of your time. If you need a faster chopping method, pulse them in a small food processor a few times, but stop way before reaching the baby food consistency. Chimichurri is supposed to be a loose, olive oil-based sauce that drapes over your food, not a mushy glob of herbs. Keep the ingredients chunky but finely diced.
Check out these pictures I've got a few for you - not many, because this recipe is as easy as...well, making chimichurri!
In a mixing bowl, combine all the ingredients. Mix everything thoroughly.
Cover the Cuban chimichurri sauce and let it sit in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes before serving. Adjust seasoning if necessary.
This condiment has strong flavors, so a little goes a long way. Mix in some additional ingredients suggested below for variety.
While traditional recipes primarily call for parsley leaves, using the stems can add a slightly different flavor and reduce waste. When I make this recipe, I use both the stems and leaves of fresh parsley - no need to waste them. I chop them up finely so that the stems don't stand out too much.
Master the art of finely chopping everything, especially those tear-inducing onions. The more finely diced, the better the flavors blend, the better the texture, and the more awesome it tastes!
With that said, chimichurri is more of a loose and rustic sauce with separate olive oil and vinegar components. It should have a chunky and more vibrant appearance. This texture allows the individual flavors of the ingredients, like parsley, garlic, and onions, to shine through distinctly. I don't recommend using a food processor to combine all the ingredients. While still tasty, it becomes a sauce of mashed-up ingredients and does not create the right texture - it's just no bueno.
My husband firmly believes that less is more when it comes to raw onions in anything. He's all about that minimalist approach, while I'm on the team, "give me more onions"- finely chopped, of course. For this recipe, we've found our red onion sweet spot at about ½ - ¾ of a cup. It adds that perfect zing. It's the Goldilocks of onions – not too much, not too little, but just right! Adjust to your preference.
Lather this on anything and everything. Here are some ideas to get you started:
- Grilled Portobello Mushrooms: Marinate portobello mushroom caps in Cuban chimichurri sauce, then grill until they're tender. Alternatively, you can opt to generously top them with Cuban chimichurri just before serving for an extra punch of flavor.
- Roasted Vegetables: Toss your favorite mix of vegetables, such as bell peppers, zucchini, and onions, in Cuban chimichurri sauce, then roast them in the oven until they are caramelized and delicious. Try it with this combination of roasted vegetables.
- Grilled Tofu or Tempeh: Marinate tofu or tempeh slices in the sauce, then grill them for a smoky and flavorful plant-based protein option. Or forget about marinating it, just plop it on top for a mouthful of flavor.
- Chimichurri Pasta Salad: Combine cooked pasta with Cuban chimichurri sauce and add fresh vegetables like cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, and red onions for a refreshing pasta salad. But remember, a little goes a long way.
- Chimichurri Grain Bowl: Grain bowls are not only simple to prepare but also incredibly delicious. Adding this delectable sauce elevates their flavor to a whole new level of scrumptiousness.
- Chimichurri Tostadas: Spread Cuban chimichurri sauce on Black Bean Tostadas With Spanish Rice or top corn tortillas with black beans, diced avocado, and shredded lettuce for a simple meal.
- Roasted Potatoes: One of the kids' favorite ways of enjoying this sauce is with Hasselback roasted potatoes (also known as accordion or pillbug potatoes).
To add delicious variation, mix in some fresh cilantro or add ½ cup of sweet red peppers, ½ cup minced tomato, and/or ½ cup fresh chopped oregano.
For sure! You have a few options. You can either combine parsley and fresh cilantro, exclusively use cilantro, or even incorporate some mint for a delightful twist.
Place in a sealed, airtight container in the refrigerator. It can typically be stored in the fridge for up to a week or possibly longer, depending on the freshness of the ingredients used.
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- 1 cup flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped (~30-40 grams)
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- ½ red onion, finely chopped
- 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes (adjust to your spice preference)
- ½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
- ¼ cup white wine vinegar
- juice of 1 lime
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- Prep the Parsley: Start by washing and drying the fresh parsley. Chop the parsley finely.
- Mix the Ingredients: In a mixing bowl, combine all the ingredients.
- Adjust the Seasoning: Taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary.
- Let It Rest: To allow the flavors to meld, cover the Cuban chimichurri sauce and let it sit in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes before serving. This resting period allows the herbs and aromatics to infuse the oil and vinegar, enhancing the taste.
- Serve: Once the chimichurri has rested, it's ready to use! Drizzle it over grilled Hasselback potatoes, tofu, or rice. It works beautifully as a marinade or sauce for grilled vegetables and bread. See the serving suggestions in the post for more ideas.
Traditional recipes usually call for parsley leaves, but using the stems adds a different flavor and reduces waste. I finely chop both stems and leaves for this recipe.
For better flavor blending and texture, finely dice everything, especially onions. Finely chopped ingredients make the dish taste awesome!
Chimichurri is meant to be a rustic sauce with separate oil and vinegar components, creating a vibrant and chunky texture. Avoid using a food processor, as it can turn the sauce into a mashed mix, affecting the texture.
- Prep Time: 10 minutes
- Chilling Time: 30 minutes
- Cook Time: 0 minutes
- Category: Condiments
- Cuisine: Cuban-Inspired
- Diet: Vegan
- Serving Size: 2 tablespoons
- Calories: 140
- Sugar: 1 g
- Sodium: 151.9 mg
- Fat: 14.2 g
- Carbohydrates: 4.8 g
- Protein: 0.6 g
- Cholesterol: 0 mg
Keywords: condiment, marinade, raw, parsley, herbs, sauce